The University of Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors baseball team (3-4) powered out a mid-game, eight-run scoring drive on Friday morning to blow open the San Francisco (0-7) series opener, en route to an 11-3 victory at Saint Mary's College's Louis Guisto Field.
The game drew close in an early pitcher's dual. In spite of his final performance, UH right-hander Brendan Hornung was the first to falter, finding himself in a jam in the third. The Dons capitalized for the 1-0 advantage, as a left fielder Harrison Bruce's single preceded a walk and a hit batter, setting up a Manny Ramirez, Jr. sacrifice fly to right field.
The Rainbow Warriors were quick to counter, as left fielder Alan Baldwin chopped a leadoff single up the middle and stole second in the top of the fourth. Reaching third on a flyout, Baldwin slid into home for the tie run on sac fly by second baseman Josh Rojas—his first career RBI.
The Dons fired back in the bottom half, putting in an unearned run by Helland on a rare throwing error by Jacob Sheldon-Collins, going ahead 2-1.
Expedient in providing redemption, Sheldon-Collins sparked the 'Bows with a fifth-inning single to center field, making his way home for the tie run two pitches later on first baseman Eric Ramirez' RBI double to right center—in and out of the fielder's glove on a tough play.
That was only the tip of the iceberg, as the Rainbow Warriors unleashed a hitting barrage to blow the game open. Right fielder Alex Fitchett followed with an RBI double down the left field line for the go-ahead run, 3-2. Designated hitter Alex Sawelson drilled a fastball down the middle for an RBI single, scoring Fitchett as UH began to gain momentum.
Facing reliever Thomas Ponticelli, freshman catcher Kekai Rios collected his first career RBI on a key play for the UH offense, extending the 'Bows lead to 6-2 with a two-run single to left center.
Already having a hot day at the plate, senior center fielder Matt LoCoco put the exclamation point on the inning, pounding a three-run homer to right field, blowing the game open at a 9-2 Hawai'i advantage.
The 'Bows kept the pressure on USF, not resting on their lead, as Rios added to his total with an RBI single to right field in the seventh and Sheldon-Collins became the seventh UH player with an RBI on a groundout in the same inning.
As Hornung crested the century-pitch mark in the seventh, the Dons loaded up the bases with one out. Left in to finish what he started by head coach Mike Trapasso, the junior right-hander closed out the frame with only a single run allowed, as USF drew the UH lead to 11-3.
Senior right-hander Cody Culp closed out the pitching duties, shutting out any hope of a USF rally, allowing only one hit and a walk through two innings.
Hornung (1-2) claimed his first win, going 7.0 innings with seven hits and two earned runs, walking three and striking out four. For the Dons, senior right-handed starter Anthony Shew (0-1) took the loss, completing 4.2 frames, giving nine hits and seven runs, walking three with one strikeout.
The 'Bows racked up 16 hits, with at least a single for each hitter, paced by LoCoco's 4-for-6 performance with three RBI and one run. Four of LoCoco's eight hits this season have gone for extra bases, including two home runs.
Rios also tallied three RBI and a run on a 2-for-5 morning. Both Rojas and third baseman Johnny Weeks recorded 2-for-3 performances, with Rojas also tabbing an RBI.
With UH earning the 1-0 series lead, the Rainbow Warriors and Dons return to action at 2:00 p.m. PT (12:00 p.m. HT) on Saturday at Louis Guisto Field on the campus of Saint Mary's College in Moraga, Calif.
Hawaii Athletics Release
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